EDIT: Chilees is permanently closed.
Chilees is a Korean burger eatery in Prenzlauer Berg that serves fun food in a lovely location. Check it out for one of the city’s few Ramen burgers, fun Kimchi fries and cold craft beer.
Now, while the opening of a Korean burger place in Berlin in 2015 is about as unspectacular as the opening of a bubble tea joint in 2012, Chilees is actually worth a couple of minutes of your time. Chilees opened its doors in the beginning of August this year on Choriner Straße in Prenzlauer Berg in the venue of the former restaurant Walden. And due to immediate lack of any restaurants in a 200 m radius this place has been packed from day one. The owners Chili and Lee are a married couple with Korean background and this is their first venture within gastronomy. Mrs. Lee is a musician and Mr. Chili used to work within Online Marketing, but eventually they came to terms with the fact that their true passion lies within food. Together they started their food venture Chilee. After a few successful gigs at street food markets like Neue Heimat and Kulturbrauerei they did a lengthy German tour where they further tested out their concept. The venue in Prenzlauer Berg just accidentally landed in their laps as they were looking for a production kitchen, but when they got the opportunity to take over the whole venue they went with the flow and realized their dream: their very own restaurant.
I like the Chilees burgers because of their size
Chilees is all about Korean burgers and the wood-themed venue seats over 40 hungry eaters. The burger centric menu offers anything from classic creations like the Galbi Cheeseburger to more Korean twists like the Bulgogi Burger. Or how about a Ramen Burger, the famous noodle burger from across the pond? To my knowledge Chilees is actually only the second place in Berlin to offer the noodle bun burger. The general quality of the burgers is consistently good, the owners have worked a lot on their product and they serve solid and innovative food. The classic minced meat burgers are juicy and cooked just right and the burger bun works very well with the condiments. The same goes for the Asian versions, the Bulgogi meat packs a lot of flavour and works well on the burger. The Ramen burger is in the end a question of preferences, I prefer a regular bread bun to two layers of crispy noodles. I can’t deny that the burger is a lot of fun though and I prefer this one to the version served by Fräulein Kimchi. Generally I like the Chilees burgers because of their size, they are not too large and, most importantly, it’s possible to eat the whole thing without half of it spilling back on the plate. Or your pants. I always manage to hit the pants.
Looks like a dish that could clog a Rhino’s coronary artery
There are also a lot of funky side dishes at Chilees that deserve some attention. First of all you will be confronted with the choice between regular and sweet potato fries and also whether you should pimp your fries with kimchi or bulgogi. While this might be a classic case of “why choose one when you can have both”, I’d say the best pimping option is the Kimchi as this choice will top your fries with loads of lovely, fermented cabbage and kimchi mayo. Looks like a dish that could clog a Rhino’s coronary artery, but the quality is right and it’s actually not as fatty as you’d expect. This is not all though, I would not leave this place without a portion of the lovely, Korean chicken wings. Angry Chicken makes them better, but these are still very lovely and they will guaranteed entertain any hungry boyfriend waiting for his burger. One dish I can’t recommend are the Mandu Korean dumplings, the version at Chilees are not very good yet. Last, but not least, you can also order a portion of Spanish pimientos de padron. In an Asian steamer. Why? Well, why the hell not? Exactly. Another massive plus is their drinks menu, not only so they offer delicious, home made ice teas, there is also a small but fine selection of craft beer, a fact that makes this even more into a casual hangout.
Chilees is a notable new opening in the Berlin burger sphere and a place that no doubt will become successful. In terms of quality, I would say it ranks right beneath the top layer of burger joints and in terms of direct competition I’d say it’s right behind Asian burger favourite Shiso Burger. The number one reason I like Chilees a lot is the fun factor, the venue is fun, the food is fun and the drinks are fun. Service can be still very confused at times, but I’m sure they will figure that out in the next weeks. Chilees means good times and I’m looking forward to returning for burgers and beers.